When I was a lawyer, I had moments at work where I just didn’t want to be working; I didn’t want to be headed to the meeting where I was expected or to write the brief I was working on or meeting the client who was on his way to my office. I probably wanted to peruse Zappos.com for “black boots” or read the comments on the NYT blog about Mad Men. I understood that having a job meant that some days my professional life would make perfect sense: my mind would be firing and my heart would be singing. And, of course, some days on the job would be a plain old drag– usually the days I had to fill in all my billable time for the previous month or could not find a single case in the free world to support my client’s position. On those days of drudgery, I don’t remember ending the day feeling like not enjoying my job was a moral failure. I just remember being happy to go home, get into my comfy clothes and forget about work for a while.
So, how come now that I am a mostly full-time mom, when I have a hard day “at work,” there is a heaping load of shame to go along with all the inconvenience of having a shitty day “at work”?
Yesterday was one of those days.
ASIDE: One of my biggest pet peeves is when people qualify a story about their loved ones by saying, “I love my [husband / child / mother / wife / life partner], but I am so annoyed.” I always want to scream, “I KNOW you love him/her! Just tell me why you are mad.” Why do we always have to qualify our anger to assure our listeners that we love someone who also happens to be a gigantic pain in the ass? I especially cringe when mothers start a story about their kids, spending 10 minutes assuring me that they love them. It’s so tiresome. I know you love your children; your boredom has nothing to do with them. Guess what? I happen to think that anger and love are imminently compatible. What would it mean about my relationships with Sadie and Simon, or Jeff for that matter, if I never got mad or annoyed or resentful towards them?]
Notwithstanding the foregoing, it’s taking every ounce of self-control for me to refrain from assuring you in all caps that I love my children dearly. I am not going to do that. If you don’t believe me, then you should probably read one of the other 14 million mommy blogs.
Back to yesterday. I just didn’t have any pep in my step or juice in my blender. I was running on fumes. It’s really challenging to be present to two toddlers when my tank is empty. I just couldn’t stay engaged with them for more than 8 minutes at a time. My patience evaporated around noon, which means trying to manage about 8.5 hours with no patience. I texted mom friends that I trust and let them know I was struggling and feeling sad about not being able to give my kids what I believe they deserve: a mom who is enjoying the experience of parenting them.
When Jeff called from D.C. I told him I didn’t feel like being a parent or anything else. I figured I should just tell the truth to the people who love me and our children. If I can’t tell them, I am screwed and so are the kids. Jeff assured me he understood. And soon my mom friends were sending texts that indicated they knew exactly the kind of afternoon I was having. “Hang in there– tomorrow is a new day.” Jeff said the best thing: “Sadie and Simon don’t need a mom who’s in a great mood all the time. They need a mom who knows how to take care of herself when she’s having a hard time.”
I wish I could be in a great mood all the time– that I had the energy and ability to roll out craft projects every night and weave wonderful tales about adventurous children who are JUST LIKE SADIE AND SIMON. It doesn’t work like that at my house. In the moments when I am dragging ass and counting the seconds until bedtime my coping mechanisms are the following:
- Desperate texts to nonjudgmental moms who have undeniably be there;
- Honest disclosures to Jeff; and
- Pray for bedtime to speed to my house.
What do you do?
PS: Still wanting to spend one more paragraph telling you how much I love my children and how great they are. I am NOT going to do that.